Stress has a huge impact on weight loss and during the holidays for many reasons, there is an increase in stress. Sometimes we are so used to compensating for it that it’s hard to recognize. Understanding what is happening in the body during stress can help you to understand why weight loss is difficult. Constant, chronic low- or high-grade stress can create havoc on your emotions and physical health along with causing additional issues like anxiety, depression, sleep deprivation, more susceptibility to infection, hypertension, and weight issues.
Stress causes the body to produce more cortisol which promotes body fat and makes it harder to lose weight, especially around your middle section, resulting in visceral fat which surrounds your organ and releases fatty acids into your blood resulting in other health issues. It can also cause you to eat foods you crave and traditionally can stay away from such as salty, sweet, and high-fat foods because they release chemicals that reduce tension only momentarily.
Stress also causes some people to sleep less causing chronic fatigue which raises Ghrelin, the hunger hormone, resulting in you feeling hungry when you aren’t. It diminishes the prefrontal cortex which is important in planning. When you diminish this your willpower is lowered and you tend to become more impulsive in your choices.
So, what are some ways to help alleviate stress?
- If you are the host have someone else help you coordinate, prep for you, and even set up the tables. Get the table set up early.
- Write down the menu: top to bottom, drinks, appetizers, main meal, dessert
- De-clutter your fridge so that you have space ahead of time
- Prep and cook the foods you can ahead of time. Clean up as you go so that it isn’t cluttered while you work and you’re not looking at a pile of dishes
- Have a backup plan for the unexpected; the turkey isn’t done, unexpected guest from out of town
- Know what potential “conflicts” there are and arrange the day and seating around it
- Topics- make a “do not discuss” list. We all have different opinions, and the holidays are not the time of the year to have unnecessary arguments
- Accept help from others
- Enjoy the moments before the event and schedule some “me” time
Have an enjoyable holiday season and do the things you like. No one can tell you what the perfect holiday is or what the perfect holiday meal is, just do what you enjoy and take those moments to relive your youth, what you consider a wonderful day, and remember it’s one meal and can be stress-free or at least reduced stress.